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Lafayette Mayor-President vetoes city ordinance to hire legal counsel, parish ordinance for airport millage

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Sep 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-11 18:30:55-04

LAFAYETTE, La. — Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory has vetoed an ordinance passed by the Lafayette City Council to hire its own legal counsel and vetoed an ordinance passed by the Lafayette Parish Council approving a new airport millage.

In a letter to the council explaining the reason for the veto, Guillory states that the Home Rule Charter grants the mayor-president the ability to appoint and remove all city, parish and city-parish employees and appointive administrative officers, who serve at the pleasure of the mayor-president.

Guillory writes that the mayor-president also appoints the city-parish attorney who serves as director of the legal department, and as chief legal adviser to the mayor-president, city and parish councils and all departments, offices and agencies.

The letter states that a section of the Home Rule Charter allows the city to hire a special legal counsel only for specific purposes after a majority vote of approval from the city council. However, such special legal counsel would still fall under the city’s legal division and under the city-parish attorney.

Guillory writes that the city council is attempting to replace its legal adviser under the charter and usurp the authority of the city-parish attorney and the mayor-president in violation of the charter.

He states that the ordinance would effectively remove the city-parish attorney as the chief legal adviser to the council and circumvent the charter’s granting of a centralized legal department under the mayor-president and his executive administration.

Guillory also vetoed an ordinance passed by the Lafayette Parish Council that sought to increase the property tax rate of the Lafayette Regional Airport millage to 1.83 mills.

“I do not believe in increasing taxes without a vote of the people,” writes Guillory. “While property values in Lafayette Parish have dropped since the last reassessment, the first impulse should be for the government to focus upon the services that are essential to its mission and cut others, rather than to automatically impose greater property taxes on our citizens.”

Guillory then urges the parish council not to override the veto and instead pass another ordinance that would levy the tax at its previous millage.

He also cites a 2019 report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor stating that the airport has an unrestricted net position of approximately $40,707,753 and can continue its core functions without another tax burden on parish citizens.

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